AUSTIN (KXAN) — The news that the Travis County District Attorney will drop all charges against the two teenagers previously in custody for the mass shooting in downtown Austin is not sitting well with the family of the man killed in the crossfire.
Nick Kantor, whose brother Douglas Kantor died after the June 12 incident on Sixth Street, said he has little faith in DA José Garza — and believes the investigation is heading in the wrong direction.
“Basically, what I took away from the press conference was that they are not prosecuting violent criminals anymore,” Kantor said. “Nothing we can do now is going to bring my brother back. And that’s something we have to accept and grieve in our own way. But moving forward, we don’t want to see more people going through what we are going through.”
The Austin Police Department has spent the last week and a half interviewing new witnesses and combing through video and ballistic evidence. It’s what led them to their sole suspect, 19-year-old De’ondre Jermirris White, of Killeen, a man they say is a fugitive and who is likely still armed.
Interim Police Chief Joseph Chacon said evidence shows the two previous teenage suspects also pulled out guns that night. However, not enough evidence exists to prove they actually fired the weapons.
Douglas Kantor died from his injuries just after 12 p.m. on Sunday June 13 at the age of 25. In addition to Kantor, 14 other people were injured in the incident.
Douglas Kantor’s uncle, Larry Lightner, expressed his disappointment about the teens’ release.
“If I go to Texas, I can now expect to be shot? Is that the idea? By a 15-year-old and he can leave and go do his homework?” Lightner told KXAN’s Alex Caprariello in a Tuesday interview. “… I’m not having it that these other two kids were sitting around eating ice cream…”
Garza said he plans to charge White, who investigators believe fired most of the shots, with murder. The district attorney said a special team of investigators, dedicated to murder and other major crimes, will be working with APD during the investigation.
“What we are focused on, what our responsibility is, is to hold the person who committed murder, and who injured 13 people on our streets a couple of weeks ago, accountable,” Garza said. “That is our focus. And what we are doing right now is ensuring that we have the best case possible in order to do that.”
Chacon said that during an investigation of this magnitude, new information comes in daily, which often conflicts and supersedes previous reports.
“The information starts coming in and that information always seems to change. And sometimes we will get information that proves to be incorrect,” Chacon said. “As the case progresses, we actually kind of zeroed in on the right person, the person who actually pulled the trigger and is responsible for the multiple shootings.”
The chief said through examining ballistic evidence, there is proof White’s gun was linked to Kantor’s murder. It’s also been linked to other violent crimes, which he says will also be investigated. Chacon said all resources in this investigation will now be poured into tracking White down.
Even still, Kantor believes this won’t bring his family justice. He wishes the other teenagers would also receive a punishment for their crimes, where evidence exists to prove their involvement.
“This was a planned hit. This was the making of an assassination. And my brother was caught in the crossfire. And these assassins were free to go,” Kantor said. “I have no faith in what is going on down there.”